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The Berlin Airlift

We filmed interviews with 50 veterans of the Berlin Airlift. From loading to landings we unearthed a wealth of remarkable personal stories. Additionally, we created 5 GCSE Lesson plans which are packed with discussion points, and statistics and offer an interesting way for teachers to deliver the topic of the Berlin Airlift. 

I’m a cold war warrior!

- Tom Holland - Pilot

The Teaching Resource

This teaching resource comprises 5 Activity Sheets and 1 Operational Log which contain: filmed eye-witness accounts, briefing notes, photographs, maps and classroom discussion points.

Over the course of this Heritage Lottery funded project, we filmed interviews with over 50 British Veterans of the Berlin Airlift – which can all be accessed via our website. You can also access additional photographs and other items of personal memorabilia, which you might like to incorporate into your lesson plans.

Our resources are all provided free of charge, and whilst they remain the intellectual property of Legasee Educational Trust, We would be delighted if you would download, print off, photocopy and use in the way that best suits your learning and teaching styles.

Lesson plans included in this resource

Lesson Plan 1

What caused the Berlin Airlift?

The surrender of Germany marked the end of the Second World War and the beginning of a new period in Germany’s history.

The four main allied powers (the British, French, Soviets and Americans) were wary of a German resurgence and all agreed at the Yalta Conference in 1945 to temporarily divide Germany.

Berlin was situated in the heart of Germany and was also divided. In June 1948, the Russians made a move to control the whole city.

In this lesson plan, meet some of the men and women who were there at the time.

Lesson Plan 2

Mission Impossible?

With roads, rivers and railways all blockaded by the Russians, how would the allies sustain a city of 2.1 million people.

The challenge of supplying a city via three narrow air corridors, just 20 miles wide, had begun.

Lesson Plan 3

Action stations

Within weeks of the airlift starting, Gatow airport was receiving a thousand tons of supplies per day.

Uniquely, Air Traffic Controllers were also in charge of the flight paths of the Sunderland flying boats onto the River Havel.

In this lesson plan, meet the men and women who helped to keep supplies moving.

Lesson plan 4

What price success?

On the 12th of May 1949, the Soviets lifted the blockade without comment.

The Airlift had succeeded but at what cost? The Russians, former allies during the war, were now the enemy.

This was the start of the Cold War and the raising of the Iron Curtain.

Lesson Plan 5

A new dawn in Europe

The Uk was itself in a post-war recession with food rations, a cruel winter and a poor harvest doing little to bolster morale or a feeling of sentiment towards the Germans.

On paper an airlift might be possible but at what cost? Were the Allies trying to save the city’s desperate citizens from starvation or was the it a political tactic to stem Stalin’s advancing Soviet power?

Let your pupils decide.

Print me out

Activity book

The Operational Log contains tasks which link to the individual Lesson plans listed above. Feel free to print out and invite your students to return at the end of each session.

Meet the veterans


It was clearly a confrontation and we clearly won it. It rates up there with the Cuban missile crisis.

- Robert van der Linden, Smithsonian historian